I arrive (first of course - apart from overseas students) to Jack Martin four (this photo is actually of JM2, but the building is identical). And my room number? - 123, nice and easy to remember. I only briefly saw the rooms on my open day, which was a long time ago even then, but I was pleasantly surprised. Its nicer than any stuent accomodation I've seen elsewhere (apart from Cambridge, but then they have no ensuite). So I unpack my stuff, say goodbye to Mum and Alys and si around at my computer. I have a little welcome pack including various information, a Boost Gourana, a Razor and a condom (all of which disappeared at some point during term one and I have no idea where to). I figure the thing to do is talk to people but there's no-one around yet, I say hello to a girl in the kitchen who's moving in but she goes off to unpack, so I sit in my room, having propped my door open with a lever arch file, waiting for more people to turn up. During this time I set up my computer and connect to the fastest internet connection I have ever seen (my dowload speeds are now only limited by the server I'm downloading from). After a while a girl called Cat, from upstairs appears a my door (who I've hardly spoken to since week one, but I do now know a Kat - I'm pointing this out now to avoid confusion). She was doing the same thing as me but got bored of just sitting waiting for someone to turn up so went exploring. We had a look down my corridor and met Trish, who lives at the end of my corridor. So my first actually conversation with anyone a uni was with these two in our kitchen. We decided to get more people out of their rooms (the doros in Jack Martin swing shut unless you prop them open) so went down our corridor knocking on all the doors, then down the next corridor, then the other corridor on our floor, then downstairs... By the time we'd returned red-knuckled to our kitchen (Kitchen 5) we had gathered almost everyone who had arrived so far to Jack Martin 4. So the rest of the day consisted of sitting around n our kitchen talking, and then going on a 'bar tour' of the union which started at some ridiculously early time like half six, so by midnight it felt incredibly late. I ended up playing pool two post-grad philosiphy students and talking about Tom Lehrer. Anyway, thus begun...
Which consisted largely of getting to know people and exploring the university. And of course, the rather evilly placed maths exam on the very first wednesday. I passed two out of four sections (and *just* failed the other two), which was pretty good going compared to most people (only a handful passed all four, and a retook and passed the other two later). My course began, including the subject Foundations which scared the shit out of everyone and made four people from Maths/Phys switch to straight physics in the first week (I was coping pretty well with it by the end of term fortunately). Fresher's fortnight included in the first week the Fresher's ball featuring Wheatus and the Bootleg Beatles. Wheatus were fun from the front row (wasn't desperately impressed with their new stuff though) and it was great to see the Bootleg Beatles. It was a really good night. Fresher's fortnight ended with a fancy dress party. standing in Coventry at 3 in the afternoon with no clue what to go as, one of us (it might have been me, I can't remember) suggested going as the guys from the 118 adverts. A few hours and some rather hastily thrown together costumes later this emerged from my room (that's Rob on the left and Phil in the middle - we're in one of the Rootes kitchens - see below). Now the party wasn't great but we didn't particularly notice. running across campus shuoting "Got your number" to strangers was great fun, as was being complete exhibitionists at the party, doind a lap of the room (whilst carrying Phil) on entry, some rather odd 118 stretching infront of an audience of everyone on the dancefloor, and running aronud Rootes bar downstairs from the party in front of loads of third/fourth years at the request of our Hall's Tutor and Subwarden (who were manning the door at the party). It must have been the adrenaline or something, because dressed in shorts and a vest we didn't feel the cold even though it was freezing that night. We also invaded one of the Rootes residences, visting every kitchen and entertaining/confusing people before returning to our halls and waking up the guy in room 118, who happens to be a Malasian guy called Niz who pratically never leaves his room to an almost hermit-like extent. We ended up in one of the Arthur Vick (the very nicest residences) common rooms for a few hours. The cold must have had some effect on me though as I felt distinctly grotty for most of the next week.
The rest of term
Much more going out, much more work (though not all that much, as most of my course consists of lectures, so when I'm at home I have relatively little to do, no essays). The best night following Freshers Fortnight had to be Crash, the rock/indie night which consisted of about three hours solid of air guitar and insane leaping, leaving me aching a bit the next day but was enormous fun. Work consisted of more Scary Maths, which I've become much better at dealing with and some not-quite-so-scary physics. Due in part to an excellent relativity lecturer (called Mark Newton, funnily enough) who made the entire thing seem rather straightforward (we also derived e=mc² - which was nice).
Our best night in had to be Kat and James' party, it was the first birthday since we got to uni, and there happened to be two of them, either side of a weekend - so we threw a joint party. Also, as James was away for the weekend, I thought it would be funny to fill his bathroom with balloons (its hard to see from the photo, but it did look very impressive at the time).
Amongst other things, we bought a table football table, football, table... Which has been great fun but has taken a bit of a battering and is now falling a part. Then there was.
The last week
A few of us went out on Sunday and saw British Sea Power, who do the the most amazing live set I've ever seen, which involved a large selection of flora, a giant bear and some highly adventurous scaling of the speakers and lighting rig by one band member, plus a great rock ending. We got back to annother party being held in our kitchen, and a few of us decided to go to the wood to cut down a Christmas tree, at about three in the morning. This quest was hampered somewhat by it being completely the wrong kind of wood (in that it holds no Christmas trees), a fact embarrasingly obvious in the light of day. On the way back from our fruitless adventure, we met a guy sitting on his own on a bench in the middle of the night. Surprisingly, he was quite normal and we spoke to him for ages. We've seen him whilst out a couple of times since, and it has to be one of the oddest ways any of us have made friends with someone. All this led to me getting only three hours sleep on Sunday night, but this sort of thing happens a lot at uni. However I also only got four hours sleep on Tuesday night. Then on Wednesday night two things happened. Ed's unnerving skill at table football made him impossible to beat when we first bought the thing, Phil beat him once leading to me calling him the People's Champion. This saga went on for the rest of term resulting in a show down between the people, led by the People's Champion (who at the time was - by an elaborate points system - myself) and the Evil Tyrant - Ed, in a kind of 'survival mode' series of games. There was entrance music for each person, and for some of us even costumes. Playing went on late into the night, and culminated with a final and suitably dramatic victory for Ed. Here most people went to bed. But Phil and I had something much more important to do...
The Banner, and the reason I'm an idiot
In week 9 (of 10) phil and I had rigged up a string-cup phone between our two rooms (the hall is in a kind of L-shape - see above). I had come up with the brilliant (or so it seemed at the time) idea of hanging a huge MERRY CHRISTMAS banner on this string. We figured out how we were going too make it and after a long and emotionally crippling scouring of the campus for very large paper (after some bastard bought the last A1 flip chart pad from the shop) we were ready to begin construction. I had already begun to draw out huge letters in pencil on big A2 sheets from a sketch pad bought at the nearby shopping centre (we were putting two sheets together for each letter) and I continued as Phil began the outlining and colouring in. Thinking it wouldn't take us long, we began in high spirits. The first problem came as one of the huge red markers we had bought to colour in the letters began to rn out ofter half an 'M'. So it came to be that we recieved strange looks fromt he woman on the Checkout at Tesco, buying four packets of crayons at three in the morning. Undaunted (or rather, we'd spent such a ridiculous amount of time and effort we had to finish the job now) we carried on wih our colouring in. Unwittingly we'd bought glittery crayons, which are very poor foor colouring in even small areas as the glitter tends to build up at the surface of the crayon and prevent any wax from coming into contact with the paper. It was with some self loathing (and not without an unpleasantly strong animosity towards each other brewing) that we laboured on into the early hours of the morning. Our letters complete, we rushed through our weatherproofing (wrapping them in cling film) to meet our 7-in the morning deadline of putting the banner up (so it just mysteriously appeared in the night, and people woke up to see it). With something of a sense of achievement, our creation was complete. Of course, I had now slept for only 7 hours over three days and had trouble staying awake during my Electricty and Magnetism lecture (mercifully my only lecture that day, since Wednesday afternoons are kept free by most universities), falling asleep at least once and producing some almost comically incoherent lectures. However, every time I watched someone see the banner and smile, it made it all worthwhile. A slight crimp was put on the whole thing by the Warden of the entire of Jack Martin deciding he didn't like it and telling us to take it down. Our Sub-Warden and Tutor happened to love the banner though, and let us keep it up until just before the Warden got back in the late-afternoon. The lack of sleep eventually caught up with me and I decided to power-nap before our Christmas dinner which our two kitchens had collabarated on. Waking up thoroughly disorientaded and - remarkably - having slept through my loud, grating alarm for about an hour. I eventually figured out what time it was and realized I'd neglected my vital duty of boiling the peas. Fortunately someone else had filled in for me, and I took the task of music instead, making a rather good Christmas compilation CD. The dinner coincided with someone's birthday, and one groups secret santa present-giving (something our corridor failed to organize until *after* Christmas). So it was another late night (boy I did a lot of sleeping in the first few weeks of the Christmas holiday).
As well as first to arrive on my corridor, I was also last to leave (partially due to not doing enough of my packing beforehand) and had a look round a spookily empty Jack Martin 4 before my sister Mary brought me home.
That will do for now I think, I'm sure I've missed loads out (nicluding many people I haven't mentioned at all) but I still have work to write up for tomorrow. What I've done over Christmas and during the first four weeks of this term should ot be quite such a lengthy post, and it should follow in the next few days.
Happy New Year, by the way.